Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme


Science and Engineering Faculty

School of Mathematical Sciences

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Vivien Challis
Lecturer in Applied and Computational Mathematics
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Structural optimisation is a powerful computational methodology for finding high-performing designs for structural components or material architectures. For example, what periodic scaffold would provide the highest possible stiffness for its weight?

Solving such a problem computationally requires an understanding of the relevant equations required to model the physical properties of interest, as well as efficient implementation of a range of numerical methods including finite elements, finite differences and optimisation.

With recent developments in 3D printing technologies it is now possible to manufacture components with varying, fine-scaled internal architectures. Multi-scale structural optimisation methods are being developed that can design such multi-scale components to take advantage of these new manufacturing technologies.

We are looking for students with an interest in computational modelling and high performance computing to undertake novel research in the area of multi-scale structural optimisation.

Research activities

You can expect to:

  • read recent publications to gain an understanding of current research in the field
  • develop your understanding of solid mechanics and a range of numerical methods
  • undertake pen and paper derivations
  • develop and run research code including on high performance computing infrastructure
  • communicate your work in written form
  • meet regularly with Dr Challis to discuss ideas and research direction, as well as to receive feedback.


The specific project aims can be tailored to your study level whether you are an undergraduate (VRES), Honours, Masters or PhD student.

The topic can also be personalised to suit your individual interests and skills, ranging from numerical methods and high performance computing (including GPU programming) to more of a focus on the material modelling or new applications (such as in orthopaedic applications).

Any novel techniques or results developed during your project will be published in peer-reviewed international journals. This outcome is particularly important for Masters or PhD students.

Skills and experience

Ideally, you'll have some prior experience with MATLAB, or other programming languages, and you'll be keen to learn more about:

  • material modelling
  • computational methods
  • high performance computing.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.